2 for the Money: Our Long-Term 2011 Mazda 2 Surfaces at Chicago Dealer’s Used-Car Lot

2011 Mazda 2 Touring

When a car completes its 40,000-mile long-term test in our hands, we often don’t know its fate after we’re done with it. At least, not specifically. Generally, when a car’s test is over, the manufacturer takes it back, cleans it up a bit (we hope), and sends it off to auction, where it’s typically bought by a dealership and unceremoniously sold like any used car. In recent memory, the only former long-term car we actively sought information on—and only to see if it had depreciated enough for one of us hacks to afford it—was our 2011 Cadillac CTS-V wagon. That 556-hp, stick-shift wündercar was on its third owner and living out its years in Flint, Michigan. The discovery of our former long-term Mazda 2 was far less intentional, happening by complete accident during a beer-fueled late-night internet search for a cheap used hatchback.

2011 Mazda 2 Touring

The editor doing the searching (totally not this author) came across a nifty-looking 2011 Mazda 2 in Liquid Silver with the must-have five-speed manual transmission on offer at a Chicago-area dealership. Handily, the listing came with a free Carfax report, which revealed the car’s first owner was a “corporate fleet” based out of Irvine, California, but the car was registered in Michigan. Under its first owner’s care, the Mazda also happened to have been religiously serviced at Ann Arbor’s Sesi Mazda until its odometer hit 40,386 miles and it was sold at auction to a Chicago-area dealership. That dealer subsequently sold the car to a local private owner, and it stayed in Crystal Lake, Illinois, for four years and another 40,000 miles until showing up for sale again earlier this month. Just in case you think we’re getting too excited over what could be a completely random silver-painted, manufacturer-registered 2011 Mazda 2, sure enough, the VIN on the Carfax matches that of our long-termer.

Mazda sold 13,952 Mazda 2s in 2011—so stumbling across the one that once sat in our fleet, late on a lazy Saturday night, qualifies as exciting. That said, a few things stand out, namely that our 2 appears to have its original clutch—no replacement is listed on the Carfax report—an iffy proposition given that we used the hatchback as a poster vehicle for our Save the Manuals campaign and used it to teach several people how to drive a stick. The car now has 81,555 miles on the odometer, so we figure a clutch replacement is likely to face the next owner. On a more positive note, our 2 hasn’t been in any accidents since it left our parking lot, and the only destruction it suffered at our hands, other than some rock chips, was a bent wheel—which we replaced. It’s also a hoot to drive and can be easily transformed into a B-Spec race car. Either way, maintenance going forward should be fairly inexpensive, particularly given that the 2’s 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine uses a timing chain (not a belt) and has tiny, inexpensive-to-replace tires and brakes.

As for the asking price, based on the same internet sleuthing that turned up this Mazda 2 for sale, we’d say it is a little high given the car’s miles and that others are trading in the mid-$5000 range. Or maybe the dealer is simply giving the 2 a bump in value owing to its Car and Driver fame.

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